Songs for Black Days: Primitive Man's Ethan McCarthy | Revolver

Songs for Black Days: Primitive Man's Ethan McCarthy

Singer shares 11 songs that have helped him through dark times
primitive-man-2017 PRESS Alvino Salcedo, Alvino Salcedo
Ethan McCarthy (center) and Primitive Man
photograph by Alvino Salcedo

From working with children with developmental disabilities, some of whom have been abused, to facing racism as a half black/half white person in America, Ethan McCarthy has seen firsthand the dark side of society and human nature. He channels much of those experiences into his industrialized sludge band Primitive Man. He also finds some respite and catharsis in the music of others, from Crowbar to Billy Boyo.

For our continuing "Songs for Black Days" series, presented in partnership with Hope for the Day, we asked the extreme-metal musician to share a few songs that have helped him through dark times. Below is what McCarthy offered up.

Erykah Badu - "That Hump"

"If I could get over that hump, then maybe I will feel better." 

Jesu - "We All Faulter"

Sounds like crying tears of cement and then being frozen to the ground with them. Then baking under the sun until you die. When it came out, this album helped me get through a pretty brutal breakup/living in a crack house. Wild that it was 14 years ago. 

Khanate - "Clean My Heart"

Alan Dubin's vocals are obviously some of the most anguished sounding of all time. But the instrumentation itself sounds like dying insane. "Clean my heart/I am demon and human and garbage and heartless/And human."  

HTRK - "Slo Glo"


Xasthur - "Cursed Revelations"

Borderline harsh noise. Sounds like scraping your skin off.  

KK.NULL, Chris Watson & Z'EV

For when you're really DEEP inside of your own world of shit. 

Curren$y ft. Young Roddy - "Certified"

"I'm shining cause I'm working, getting that paper cause I deserve it, trying to smoke away my pain, I hope this L don't ever stop burning." 

Cold Cave - "People Are Poison"

Yeah, I'm sad, but I'll dance through it, I guess.  

Crowbar - "Existence Is Punishment"

It really is.

Billy Boyo - "One Spliff a Day"

"One spliff a day will keep the evil away." 

Gil Scott-Heron - "The Prisoner"

That's the saddest fucking song there is. 

Every day in America, 121 people die by suicide. It only takes one to break the silence — take action in your community and sign Hope for the Day's mental health pledge.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of resources.